Idea of Arming Teachers A Sign of Disrespect
Candidate Trump told us we could vote for him without fear of his doing the bidding of the special interests because he was financing his own campaign. If anyone doubts that President Trump is, in fact, beholden to the special interests, that person only needs to compare what Mr. Trump is advocating in the wake of the Parkland massacre with what Wayne LaPierre of the NRA has been saying for years.
The truth is that Candidate Trump loaned his campaign a lot of money, then paid himself back from millions he received in campaign donations from special interests. The NRA donated $21 million dollars to the Trump-Pence campaign. Now both are saying: “The schools are soft targets that we must harden. We must arm classroom teachers in every school.”
Both President Trump and Mr. LaPierre also point out that there is armed security in banks, at professional sporting events, in court houses, at airports, and in a host of other businesses. Both then propose protecting schools by arming teachers — a solution they see as equivalent to securing other places that might be targets for criminals.
What these men are proposing is not equivalent, however. It’s not the bank’s tellers who are armed. It’s not the ticket agents or flight attendants at the airports who are armed. No one is asking the players of the NBA or NFL to carry weapons to protect themselves and fans at their workplaces. In businesses and airports and sports venues, the armed security personnel are paid professional security guards whose only job at those facilities is providing the security. So why is it that we should put the burden of providing the security in the schools on the teachers? Do people think teachers have so little to do that they could easily add acquiring and maintaining the skills to shoot moving targets (usually embedded in groups of moving students) to teachers’ duties to prepare lessons, provide instruction, grade papers, take courses to keep up their certification, etc.?
Society has already added to the job of teaching course content to students such things as monitoring students for signs of abuse or mental or physical illness, seeing to it that students who need medication during the school day get it when scheduled, monitoring halls and playgrounds and cafeterias, supervising extra-curricular activities after school, breaking up altercations among students, and a host of other duties not connected to classroom instruction.
It’s no wonder that West Virginia’s teachers, who are among the worst-paid teachers in the nation, are upset with increases in costs of their medical benefits or raises that barely cover increases in their insurance premiums! Expecting any of them to add the job of securing the school, even if we give them a few extra bucks, is just one more demonstration of our lack of respect for our teachers. Even if we did give them a small bonus for carrying weapons, would it be enough to cover the liability insurance they would also have to carry to cover the millions they could be sued for if they accidentally hurt or killed an innocent student?
Are we willing to set up a fund to provide death benefits for families of teachers killed in the line of duty? The families of cops and soldiers are paid substantial death benefits for those killed in the line of duty. Families of teachers killed protecting students currently get nothing. Again, it shows our lack of respect for our teachers.
We need to let teachers teach and to hire an adequate number of adequately trained professionals to provide the various kinds of medical, social, and security services our children also need.